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This article, Second Step to the Crown: Brilliant Light and Heat, is the co-property of both Black Dwarf Star and HoloArc.

The sun stood at it's highest, spreading it's light across the land and showering the sailors, as well as the turists, with it's radiant warm beams. On the small beach, just meters away from the piers, lay a woman in nothing but her undergarments with her other clothes folded neatly beside her, taking full advantage of the current weather that the ancestors had so kindly blessed her with.

She rested her heads on her folded arms behind her head, closing her eyes and just enjoying her enviroment. The sound of the waves against the shoreline and the pier was soothing to her ears. The sound of the little rambunctious children that ran around and played in the waters was surprisingly pleasing. The day could barely be better... If it wasn't for one thing.

Carwen sat up for the tiniest bit. Just enough for her to to see the yet not faded mark from her last battle. A mark that lined her shins from when her leg had been sliced open. An while it had recieved some of the best healing medicine money could buy and with a good amount of time to rest, her leg still ached like hell whenever she tried to rely on it. Sighing, she layed herself back down on the sand, awaiting for either the sun to move away from sight, or for a certain someone to show up.

A man in all black, with two swords walked over to her. "You must be Carwen Khapree," he said. "It must be fate that I'm facing off against another Mage from Dragon Soul. I'm Aether Cade, the guild master of Dragon Gunfire, and your opponent for this portion of the tournament. I faced one of your colleagues in the preliminaries, Mamoru Minamoto. I'd like to see if you can fair any better."

Carwen just remained in the sand, not even bothering to get up. "Mamoru... Minamoto. Hmm... Never heard of the man, so make sure to not lump me in with the likes of him. Nothing surpasses the Divine. Despite my lack of knowledge about him, I do know a thing or two about you."

Carwen slowly started to get up, clearly signaling that she did not intend to start a fight. Not yet anyway. It took some effort to get up due to her leg and once she was up she started to get properly dressed. "I now know about your status as guild master, but that is hardly relevant. What is relevant is what sort of Slayer you. To be able to control two elements and even merge them is impressive, I'll admit. But no matter how you try, your dual element slayer magic will never compare to my magic." She now stood fully clothed and took a stance to prepare for combat. "So... shall we begin?"

"We shall." Aether's aura blazed to life, scaring away all of the civilians. Still right in front of Carwen he unleashed a blast of plasma from his mouth.

She Stood fast and didn't more for as much as an inch. "Divine Dragon's Coat". Her body shone with a bright blue light as she took the blast head-on. The blast inflicted some good damage on her, but nothing that she couldnt shrug off.

"So, now I know that you can hurt. Let's see what else you've got to show." She said with a gleeful smink. "Divine Dragon's Roar!"

Aether's body turned into plasma and he flew around the attack at high speeds. He went to deliver a strong kick to the back of Carwen's head.

Carwen took the blow to the head and with the help of her Divine Propulsion spell, she spun a in a perfect circle to deliver a kick of her own to Aether.

He leaned backwards avoiding the kick, and blasted her point blank with a burst of plasma from his hand.

"Not this time around, buddy. Divnive Dragon's Shield!" From her left hand sprouted a shield made of blue light that took the full forcce of the burst, with no visible damage. She then proceeded to channel the "divine light" into her hands and directing it to her finger tips, taking on the form of claws. "Claw of the Divine Dragon." After making her spell, she ued Divine Propulsion to speed herself forwards with blistering speed, letting out a flurry of swift and possibly devastating strikes.

Aether had no real problem dodging her strikes, using his own magic to increase his speed as well. With every attack he dodged he would strike back with a plasma imbued punch of his own. "Lightning Flame Dragon's Atomic Cutlass!" He unsheathed and quickly struck at Carwen in one fluid motion with his sword. Aether was confident that his sword could pierce through her shield if she put it back up.

Damn it! Guess I'll have to pul out the hammers. At this rate, I won't have any tricks left by the final match! She thought angrily. She allowed the claws to fade as she sharged up a brand new spell. She channeled the light into her hands and from it she shaped two hammers, crackling with energy. "Secret Art: Sanctified Hammer of the Courageous!"

She used these hammers to strike the swords out of their way and then proceeded to bring these hammers together, with his head in between.

With only slight movement, Aether moved his head out of the way of Carwen's hammers. He then delivered a swift kick, aimed towards her abdomen to send her some distance away.

She took the blow and was sent backwards, but never losing her stance. "You... Bastard!" She tossed the two of her hammers in his direction, hoping to deliver a powerful blow on his frame.

Aether waved his hand, generating a blast of plasma that incinerated the hammer. "Says the one that just tried to crush my head."

Carwen growled, generating blue crackling light into the palm of her free hand. As the light gathered, the hammer too started to grow in it's intense light. Clasping her hand firmly, a shattering sound could be heard. With divine propulsion she sped forwards and released the light in her hand against Aether like a shotgun blast. "Divine Dragon's Hail Shot!"

Aether sidestepped the attack, anticipating her movements. He then went for a strong blow to her side.

Carwen grabbed a hold of his leg, taking a a bit of the blow, yet delivering quite minimal damage to her. "Try dodging this!" She assured her firm grip on her hammer and brought it in an arc to deliver a swift and powerful strike to his own side.

Suddenly Carwen's hand began to burn, and the hammer just bounced off of Aether. "Fourth State: Plasma Armor." He expanded his armor rapidly, generating enough force to push Carwen away.

Carwen was forced away from her target as well as being forced to discontinue the use of her hammer spell. "Damn you... Guess I'll have to step things up. Divine Drive." Blue crackling light flared up around her as she activated her drive spell. A confident smirk grew upon her features. "I know you are capable of this as well, but remember my words. Your magic will never be as good as mine."

Carwen activated her Divine propulsions once more and soard high up into the sky. She channeled the "divine light" into her palms and once they were of sufficient size, she clapped her hands together, shattering the light and causing it to rain down on the field like a volley of arrows. "Crusader's Volley!"

Aether inhaled deeply. "Lightning Flame Dragon's Roar!" He cut a path through the light where he wouldn't be damaged by the attacks, and it continued on towards Carwen.

Growing more than just a little frustrated with the man, Carwen proceeded to speed down towards Aether, sprialing down the Roar, effectively dodging it. As she was close to the ground she flew behind him and started to use her divine propulsion to flip and spin, punch and kick in rapid succession with magically glowing limbs. "Divine Dragon's Iron Fist! Divine Dragon's tail!"

With little difficulty, Aether blocked and dodged Carwen's attacks, propelling her backwards with a burst of plasma. "You honestly don't know of your guild mate? Mamoru was far more impressive in skill than you were. He even landed a few blows on me." Aether wasn't the kind of person to mock adversaries. He could already tell that the angrier Carwen grew, the more likely she was to make mistakes. Aether saw the wound on her leg, and took note of it.

Carwen reeled ack but was nonetheless quick to get back into a proper stance. As she raised her head, one could take clear notice of her wide predatory grin. "Indeed? But unless I'm mistaken, I did actually land a few. Five in total just mere moments ago." Two attack reducers and one speed reducer. That should make easier work of him. "A little tip for the future..." Carwen channeled the "divine light" into her palm, slowly covering her hands in it as well as shaping it into a long spear. "Never block a Divine Dragon's attacks. Divine Dragon's Claw! Secret Art: Lance of Longinus!"

Carwen threw the spear toward Aether, and as it approached, she teleported to her spear and aimed to deliver a powerful thrust to his shoulder and with the three stigmata's on his body, the damage would be vastly increased.

Aether didn't even attempt to move. His aura exploded around him, generating enough power to burn off the stigmatas and blow away Carwen. "A little tip for the future, never get within striking distance of something that can burn as powerfully as a star." Aether created a small sphere and threw it at Carwen. "Lightning Flame Dragon's Blue Bomb!" The bomb made a powerful explosion that greatly destroyed the area.

Carwen got sent flying a far distance from the bomb, her tux starting to get scorched and she truly started to feel the wear and tear of this fight. But she was not done for yet. "Good tip. So have at it." She threw the spear once more then detached the claws from her hands, sending them flying towards him. And, just to add icing on the cake: "Divine Blaze Engine!" she cried out as following the two earlier attacks came a colossal beam of divine propulsion energy, the very air quivering at it's approach.

Aether quickly charged plasma in his hands. "Lightning Flame Dragon's Electron Cannon!" He blasted a large beam of plasma from his cupped hands, countering Carwen's attack that continued to go on towards her.

"Divine Dragon's Shield!" Carwen cried out, as a shield of crackling blue light took form that completely blocked the Plasma attack. And as she blocked it, half of the power of the spell was going to be added to her next one. Carwen kept herself in the through her propulsion spell, spreading her legs wide and allowing a light arc to form between her legs like a bow. A string of light appeared across that she bit hold of and pulled back, a bolt of light forming. This was her fastest and by far most devastating spell. "Crusader's Ballista!" She cried out through clenched teeth. She let go of the string, letting the bolt fly at tremendous speed and force and should the bolt miss, a huge explosion will follow in it's wake.

Noticing her preparations, Aether began a spell of his own. Plasma seemed to most off of his body as he prepared a devastating attack. The second after Carwen's arrow was fired, Aether casted his. "Fourth State: Ion Cloud!" Aether launched a gigantic cloud of plasma that absorbed the arrow, and whittled it away. It continued to go towards Carwen.

Carwen discontinued the use of Drive and proceeded to speed around and past the cloud, making her way down towards Aether. "Secret Art: Sanctified Hammer of the Courageous!" She closed in on her target, preparing her strike to his left side.

"Fourth State: Electron Tornado!" Aether quickly began spinning in a circle, creating several powerful wisps of plasma from his body to counter Carwen's blow.

Carwen halted her approach as Aether started spinning. Close range is not going to do much against that. So... let's try this again. Carwen brought her hands together, a divine propulsor appearing between her hands. She thrust forward, sending out another colossal beam of "divine light". "Divine Blaze Engine!" This time though, she allowed herself to be pushed away by the beam, sending her flying almost hundreds of yards away in an attempt to figure out a better fitting strategy.

Aether's spell still managed to burn away Carwen's attack. He then jumped into the Ion Cluld, and it began to chase Carwen across the battlefield.

Upon seeing him can traveling towards her in cloud form, Carwen knew what to do. She had allowed herself to become angry and frustrated. That has always lead to her fall in the past. She worked best when in a soothed and calm state of mind. She darted forward, no magic beyond her own propulsion. It was time to see what he was really made out of.

Aether moved the cloud at incredible speeds. The heat of the cloud ensured that Carwen could not attack him directly, and it would erode any attacks she sent his way. The cloud continued to chase her, bolts of plasma periodically flying from the could, aimed at Carwen.

As Carwen approached him, Carwen went through everything she had learned about him in her mind. She knew very well by now that for as long as he remained as the cloud, no attacks could affect him. Close combat was just a silly idea as it would hurtherself more than him, and magic has been shown to be fried asunder when it comes into contact with such concentrated amounts of plasma and power. So really, there was only one option left.

Carwen dodged the bolts with little difficulty, but she did not take their pure radiant heat into account as just being in close radius to them caused her to feel a warm discomfort. As they closed in on eachother, she made a boosted herself over him and landed rather ungracefully behind him due to her leg. While nothing that really could cause her problems in the fight, the aching was still distracting. She deactivated her propulsions and once more entered her Drive.

"Plasma Drive!" Aether became more attuned to the power of the Ion Cloud. It swelled in power, and became to move according to his wim. He forced his hand outwards, blasting a section of the cloud directly at Carwen.

"Divine Dragon's Coat!". Carwen's skin began to radiate a faintly blue glow. As the cloud came into contact with her, she simply stood there, seemingly unfazed. "Your cloud holds no physical form. It is all heat and nothing more. This spell permits me to completely ignore all such heat changes."

Carwen stepped forward, approaching Aether with her clenched fist drawn back and ready to strike as she dived head first into the cloud.

Inside the cloud, Carwen's body began to be bombarded with bolts of plasma. Aether floated in the center. The cloud began to violently rotate, with Aether remaining stationary. The incredible force of the cloud's rotation began to toss Carwen around like she was in a the middle of a tsunami. Furthermore, there was no air in the cloud.

The bolts of plasma did next to nothing on her frame as their power comes from teir sheer heat, but heat will do little to nothing to her while the coat is up. What was an issue though was the lack of air. Carwen quickly realized that she could not stay in here for long. She closed in on Aether through the aid of some propulsion and went to deliver a strong punch.

The cloud had slowed down Carwen's movements, giving him plenty of time to unsheathe his sword. "Lightning Flame Dragon's Atomic Cutlass!" When Carwen was right in front of him he unleashed the attack, cutting at her with a cross-shaped attack.

Carwen blocked the cuts with her bare arms. The coat allowed for her to block the sharpness of the attack, but the sheer force and magic behind them punished her body to a greater extent. The cloak started to lose it's brightness, alarming Carwen. She grabbed hold of Aether's arms, pulled herself close to him, her face inches away from his as she fired off a roar at point blank range.

Suddenly Aether's hair turned blue as his aura exploded around him, further eroding away her coat. He had entered Dragon Force. "Lightning Flame Dragon King's Grand Breath!" He blasted his own roar to counter her's.

Seeing what was coming, Carwen decided that that was a confrontation that she could not win by force alone. She directed her head downwards, putting some extra force into it which caused her to be launched into the air, away from Aether and the cloud. When she was just at the edge of the cloud, her coat shattered, causing her to now be hurt by the cloud. The cloud corroded her clothes to the point where there were barely scraps left of her clothes.

"Is this the point of your magic? To strip your opponents of their clothes and dignity?" Carwen took a firm hold at her clohtes and tore them right off so that she now only stood in her undergarments like when they first introduced.

This can't go on much longer. Here I stand, bruised and in barely more than my birthday suit and he has just about taken nothing. I need to end this soon. But what CAN I do? My power comes from the Stigmatas and he can just scorch them right off. Maybe if I... No, i must try the traditional way. But if that fails... I may not have a choice.

Carwen soared high up into the air. "Secret Art: Sanctified Hammer of the Courageous!" She then dived down towards the cloud at speeds that only stood rivaled by her Ballista Spell and power rivaled by only one other. "Giga Impact!" A cone of pure magic formed around her body. If she were to hit, major damage were to be dealt that could most certainly shatter bones.

Still in the protection of his cloud, Aether's body began to change due to his Dragon Force. His plasma armor began to solidify, forming black and blue scales on his body. His appearance was terrifying, appearing as though he was a Mini Acnologia. "Lightning Flame Dragon King's Emperor Scales!" He flew up at Carwen at incredible speeds, equaling her's by using the propulsion from his rotating cloud. As he exited it, the cloud transformed behind him, forming a powerful sphere of compressed plasma. It clashed into Carwen's spell. During the collision, Aether let out a roar, sounding more like a Dragon than a human.

With Aether in Dragon Force, there was no way in hell that she could win this confrontation. So she was left with one choice. Just before she made impact with him she mumbled the words: "Shatter Impact." The cone cracked open like an egg, the cracks spreading all over the cone and as she made contact, the cone exploded, sending Aether plumetting at terminal velocity towards the ground.

Aether landed, but it was of little consequence. His scales protected him from the fall, leaving him virtually unharmed. He brushed himself off, his sphere still in his hand. He let out an enormous roar, shaking the ground. He looked into Carwen's eyes, bearing into her soul. "I have a question for." His voice booming across the battlefield. "Where is Genghis Breningoch?"

Carwen shrugged. "Hell if I know. I haven't seen or met him since my initiation. Why does that matter?"

"Fair point," said Aether, "then I'll try to end this quickly." He charged plasma in his hands and fired it at Carwen.

Carwen made a flip and dodged the bolt of plasma, taking into thought the heat that radiates from it this time. "Come on now, both you and I know that you are capable of more than that."

While it was passing under her, Aether clenched his fist, and the beam scattered into hundreds of small plasma needles, going in all directions.

Carwen's back was pierced by the plasma needles. She let out a bloodcurdling scream as she fell to the ground face down.

Aether tentatively watched his opponent on the ground, wary of wether or not they would make another move.

The air pulsated with bright blue light. Carwen's body was starting to shimmer as she slowly started to stand up, forcing herself back on her legs as she activated her Dragon Force. "It would seem-". Carwen interrupted herself as she entered a coughing fit. "It would seem that you have emptied my options. There is only one last path to take."

Carwen started to gather the light into an orb in her palm, slowly growing bigger and bigger until it started to shrink into barely the sice of a marble. Carwen then carried it into the air and as it soared up high, the orb took on the shape of a wide disk, crackling with intense energies. "You know what this is, don't you? This is my Ultimate Art, the art that allowed me to trancsend my mortal bonds. Prepare to face the justice of the Divine Judgement!"

Aether collected magical energy into both of his hands forming two spheres. "It seems as though you leave me with no choice." If her Ultimate Art was anything like his, he wouldn't be able to avoid it. "I guess I'll just have to show you mine." He combined the two spheres into one.

Carwen directed the disk to be right above Aether as she unleashed it's power. Aether stood bellow and directed his own Ultimate Art towards the disk in the sky as he too unleashed what he had created. The two spells met and clashed in a flash and as the two spells met, both of them knew, that whomever would win this one, would be the final victor.

Before the attack went off, Aether jumped backwards. He created a cannon out of his magical energy, pointing it directly at Carwen and her spell, although he was still in her line of fire. "Dragon Gun FIRE!" He shouted, and a beam of plasma, larger and faster than any of his other attacks was fired.

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